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School-Based Interventions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will examine the use of school-based interventions structured in a 3-tiered system to support students at all levels of math, reading, and behavior development.

Response to Intervention

Most school-based interventions are structured with a tiered system of support, such as Response to Intervention. Response to Intervention (RTI) provides a framework for a three-tiered approach to student support in which all students are given universal supports, with students who do not respond to the regular curriculum being provided with additional support. The tiered approach to student intervention may be used with any area of instruction, but usually focuses on math, reading and behavior. Let's learn more about school-based interventions.

Math Interventions

Who needs intervention? With any tiered system of support, generally, eighty percent or more of students will fall within Tier One. Ten to fifteen percent of students fall into Tier Two and may need some additional support. Approximately five percent of all students fall into Tier Three, which requires individualized intervention.

Math is a subject that progressively builds upon itself, meaning that if a child does not have a solid background in math during early childhood for any reason, it is likely he or she will fall behind. Targeted math intervention identifies the student's deficient areas, so that teachers are able to provide the necessary foundation for students to learn and progress.

Tier One instruction takes place with every student in the class, even those who have been identified as needing additional support. Quality Tier One math support depends on introducing material in a logical sequence using C-R-A, or Concrete-Representational-Abstract. This approach seeks to provide students with an understanding of a new math concepts using manipulatives before attempting the same concept with representational pictures and then abstract, numeric symbols. Manipulatives are any concrete object that can be moved in order to solve problems. Within Tier One, a plan must exist for assessing the mastery of specified objectives and providing feedback to students. Students who are not successful in Tier One will need to continue to receive Tier One services, while simultaneously receiving Tier Two interventions.

In math, Tier Two interventions work within the child's Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) to enhance their skills through a variety of repetitive exercises, while frequently checking their progress to help teachers determine whether or not the selected interventions are working. If, after assessment, the student is still not successful, they should begin receiving Tier Three Interventions in addition to Tier One and Tier Two Interventions.

Interventions at Tier Three level should be research-based, closely monitored and then assessed, as they may be part of determining eligibility for special services. The reason for such detail is to help ensure fidelity of implementation and for the students' success. Tier Three interventions may be applied in a small group setting, or individually and could address computational and fluency skills if those are identified areas of need.

What if the student improves? Students on a tiered system may move back and forth between the tiers based on the results of monitoring.

Reading Interventions

How is reading intervention different from math intervention? The structure of a reading tiered system of intervention is similar to the structure of the mathematics tiered system of intervention, or any other content area. The main difference lies in the specifics skills that are targeted for improvement.

The five components of an effective reading program include: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Progress monitoring tools need to be developed, or obtained, to check the student's progress in each of these five areas so that targeted instruction at the student's instructional level can be applied.

Behavior Interventions

Tiered behavior management systems, such as PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) are used by schools to apply the RTI model to student behavior. As with academic interventions, the majority of students will fall within Tier One, simply needing clearly established, consistent expectations to be successful. Teachers at all grade levels need to be cautious about making assumptions regarding a student's understanding of classroom expectations. Rules and procedures should be taught throughout the year, particularly prior to the transition of a new activity.

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